Sharene Creations and Mr Simon – Melbourne fashion label.

The other day I listed a new frock on the webshop, a beautiful and very well made dress by Sharene Creations.

Sharene Creations dress 1950s 475

I’ve seen a few Sharenes and it’s an unusual name so with the help of Lesley Sharon Rosenthal’s excellent book “Schmattes” and the internet, I learnt a thing or two about the owner, Simon Shinberg.

He was “mature, worldly, sophisticated, well groomed and elegant” and “a lively energetic person” according to the young model who later became his wife.

Shinberg’s parents were well established with their own fashion business “Paulinette”, which had shops in Howie Court (Melbourne), Chapel Street (Windsor) and Carnegie. Simon started designing costumes for the Princess Theatre in the ’40s and then set up his first label “Simonette” in the back of Paulinette’s Chapel Street shop.

His first styles were the “shortie” swing coats that were fashionable in the late ’40s and he sold them to major department stores in Sydney like Mark Foys, Snows, David Jones and Farmers.

His father suggested he learn about making dresses so together they set up a manufacturing company called “Shinberg Manufacturing” producing tailored fashions for the Kay Dunhill label at the Myer Emporium, amongst others.

In the early ’50s Shinberg opened his next label – Sharene Creations.

Sharene Creations label 1950s

In 1957 he produced costumes for the British performer Sabrina for her Australian tour and she was photographed many times in his fashions – here she is in one of her Sharene Creations gowns.

Sabrina (Norma Sykes)
Photo source and more information here.

Mr Shinberg travelled to Paris, and like many young designers visited the couturier shows to learn about the latest styles. With the help of a capable pattern maker, he was inspired to interpret the trends for Australians.

He was amongst the first to bring Givenchy’s new style “Le Sacque” to Australia and David Jones sold 8,000 of his Sack dresses in 1958! The Sack dress was a major change in silhouette from the heavily waisted dresses of the ’40s and ’50s and the waistless silhouette came to dominate the next decade.

Simple for summer 475
The Age, 1953 – the dress on the right has a very similar silhouette to my dress, with the sloping extended shoulder sleeve and skirt. On the left you can see Sharene’s in-house model Adrienne Drage (later to become Adrienne Shinberg when she married Mr Shinberg).

The Age 1957 475
The Age, December 1957 – Sharen’s Sack dress on the left won the top prize in the wool awards.

Aus Womens Weekly 1961
Australian Women’s Weekly, 1961. Wool Gold Medal Award Contest: You can win a 350 pound wardrobe! You can see by the prices that Sharene was a quality label.

The Age 1964 475
The Age, 1964

In about 1964 Mr Shinberg started up a third label called “Mr Simon”, which produced the young and groovy fashions sought by the daughters of his original Sharene wearers – Mr Simon grew and became a major label through the ’70s and ’80s.

Mr Simon 60s label
Late ’60s label, photo courtesy Wendy of Mint Condition vintage boutique.

I was sad to discover that Simon only passed away a few weeks ago – he certainly left his mark on our cultural landscape. His clothes were beautiful. I’ll add more Sharenes as I find them, and you’re welcome to send any pics you have of your Sharenes too. In particular, I’d love to find a sack dress!

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3 comments

  1. How fabulous to see this article.
    I started my career in fashion at Mr. Simon in the early 80`s.
    Simon interviewed myself and another fashion graduate at the same time which was my introduction to the competitive world of fashion.
    I feel I was given my 30 plus year career in fashion due to this day
    Mr. Simon was the best place I could have started. The old school glamour and beautiful designs will always be a lovely memory.
    Working as a junior cutter and pattern grader I was lucky to be working in a well established family business .
    Nurtured & mentored by Mr & Mrs Shinberg who were extemely passionate about there label
    Located in Flinders Lane at the time I got a glimpse as to what was the rag trade at the end of an era.
    I will be forever grateful for this start in my career and truly happy to see Sharene Creations and Mr. Simon recognized as a part of Melbourne’s fashion history

  2. Hi Kerry, thanks for your comment! The fashion world has changed so much, but I love hearing stories about how it used to be. A kinder world, I think.

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